Michael Barone: Lessons from 2008 for 2012 candidates

I completely agree with Barone’s thesis below. I’ve been stressing about the lack of quality among the conventional 2012 candidates (Palin not ready, Romney not perceived as a Conservative (some merit to that), Huckabee a little goofy), and am hoping more and more that someone like John Thune steps out to run.

Michael Barone’s thesis:

I still think Republicans are going to have a hard time coming up with a strong presidential nominee in 2012, as I reflect on their difficulty in doing so in 2008. For as I look back on that Republican nominating contest, it seems to me that none of the Republican candidates had a good strategy for winning the nomination. And if a candidate does not win the nomination, it does not really matter how strong he (or she) would be in the general election.

I’m not going to post his entire analysis of each of their 2008 strategies, but I’ll post his bottom line, which is the implication for candidates running in 2012:

John McCain:

Implication for 2012 candidates:

“You can’t hope to win by waiting for every other candidate’s strategy to fail unless you have an in with Lady Luck.”

Rudy Giuliani:

Implication for 2012 candidates:

“You cannot wait too long to compete. If you bypass New Hampshire, you must compete in Iowa, or vice versa, or very soon thereafter.”

Fred Thompson:

Implication for 2012 candidates:

“Either compete strongly and early enough in Iowa to make a good showing in the straw poll or stay out of Iowa altogether (as John McCain did, to not significant detriment, in 2000 and effectively did, to no significant detriment, in 2008).”

Mike Huckabee:

Implication for 2012 candidates (especially Huckabee):

“Huckabee or a candidate with a similar profile can corner the votes of evangelical and born-again Christians and, starting with Iowa, can round up a significant number of delegates. It is conceivable that such a candidate, with the help of Republicans’ winner-take-all delegate allocation rules and if he continues to face multiple opponents, could accumulate enough delegates to win the nomination. But otherwise he is in the position of Jesse Jackson in the 1984 and 1988 Democratic contests, able to run a significant second or third thanks to strong support from one of the party’s core constituencies but unable to run first.”

Mitt Romney:

Implication for 2012 candidates (especially Romney):

“Run as yourself. Emphasize your strengths and avoid contests that are not suited to them. This will not guarantee victory, but it will make a victory in the battle for the nomination worth more in the general election, since you will not have to visibly pirouette from appealing to a relatively narrow primary electorate to the much broader (and potentially expandable) electorate you will face in the fall.”

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